Father’s Day Fishing

18 06 2018

93 degrees with a heat index over 100 and 100% humidity.  That was the forecast for this past Father’s Day.  Seemed liked perfect weather to take a long walk on a dirt road with the sun beating down on my back.  At least I had enough sense to get up early before it got to hot.  But hey, it is Father’s Day and that means I can do whatever I want, within reason.  I was free of any Father’s Day obligations until noon so that gave me a few hours.  With all that in mind I was up and out the door early and starting my long walk with fly rods in hand around 7:00 am.

As I was walking along I could see some surface activity.  Didn’t know what it was but something was definitely feeding on something.  I figured the mayflies were hatching.  I was right.

There weren’t a lot of them but I managed to pick up a few hitchhikers during my stay.  The water was dead calm so spotting any carp was very easy.  Problem was they were in “I’m cruising to someplace else” mode and not “I’m Hungry” mode.  I tried but for the most part it was an exercise in futility.  I had a few turn towards my fly and acted like they showed some interest but never committed.  At one spot I set up and waited to see what might come my way.  I saw a carp slowly cruising in and made a cast way out in front of him.  As I was stripping the fly into range Bluegill #1 hit.  After I let him go I figured where there is one there is usually more.  Sure enough, about a dozen casts later and I brought about a half dozen nice sized gills to hand.

After awhile the area kind of petered out so I moved down to another area.  I stuck with the same carp fly and just started casting and stripping.  Figured I would catch gills, hoped a carp might actually hit, ended up with a surprise Largemouth Bass.  I was using my 8wt Scott Flex fly rod, overkill for gills but great for carp.  I was glad I had it when the Bass hit.  He didn’t make any great runs but he wanted to stay in the weeds and I had to put the brakes on him to prevent it.  I eventually got him to shore and after a quick pic sent him on his way.

After that I was getting tired of wiping sweat so I started my walk back.  I would stop and cast to any carp I saw that might show interest but in the end, none of them did.  I don’t know if it was the heat or the fact they might still be in spawn mode but I didn’t see any active feeders today.  Maybe next time.  I need to tie up some more carp flies in the burnt orange color.  I only have a couple left and it appears to work well for Gills and Bass.  One of these days I might finally figure out a pattern the carp will actually grab instead of ignore.

That was it for my Father’s Day Fishing adventure.  A handful of Gills, one bonus LMB and no Carp.  I was back home around 11 in enough time to go to breakfast with my kids and to see Incredibles II later.

Not a bad day.

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One Last Crack

11 06 2018

A few days before Memorial Day weekend a friend of mine contacted me to tell me the Steelhead had just started moving into the St. Mary’s Rapid’s.  Of course he wanted me to come up then but family obligations prevented that.  He told me they should still be around well into June so I had time.  That would work because I was invited to a wedding at Carp Lake, MI on June 8th so I figured I could make the hour drive the next day while everyone else was sleeping off hangovers and doing the tourist thing at Mackinac City.

The next morning I was headed north at 4:30 am.  As expected the roads were empty, there wasn’t even any traffic on either of the bridges and I think I woke up the customs guard in Canada.  A little after 6:00 am I was suiting up and heading to the river.  As I drove over the bridge I could see that the water level was down and there was only one other person fishing.  So far so good.  I waded across and noticed the shadows of a few fish taking off in front of me.  I was feeling very optimistic at first but I soon realized that all of the shadows I was seeing were suckers, hundred’s of them.  My heart sank but I gave it my best shot anyways.  I swung flies for the next few hours without even so much as a bump.  At one point I though I had a take but when I brought the fly in I could see a small scale on the hook and figured I just scraped a sucker.  Around 10:00 am I put away the streamers and broke out one of my burnt orange carp flies.  By now there were about a dozen nymphers and pinners out drifting beads and egg flies.  I did see one nympher catch a bright skipper on an egg fly so I figured what the hell.  About 20 minutes later I saw a bow start in my line and I figured I was snagged.  I pulled in the line and lifted the rod and felt a strange shake.  Sure enough, I had a sucker on.  It didn’t take long for me to get him in, he didn’t have much of a chance against a 13 1/2 foot 8wt Spey rod.  I took a quick pic and then let him go.

Whistletrout

Shortly after that I headed in and just as I was about to climb out I spotted about 1/2 a dozen very dark Steelhead sitting on the end of a run.  I immediately started casting but they showed zero interest in what I was offering.

Story of my life.

After about 30 minutes I gave up.  I saw another fish caught by a pinner as I was walking out.  A dark male that hardly fought.  I took that as a sign that the fish didn’t care either.  I just chalked it up as another learning experience.  Four trips here and still no steelhead.  One of these days I will time it right and actually catch one.  Until then there is always Alaska.  As a matter of fact, 2 months from today will be the last day of my week long trip.  Better days are ahead.





Inaugural Bass/Bluegill/Carp trip for 2018

5 06 2018

This past Sunday (6/3) was my first fly fishing trip to my super secret, catch just about anything, spot.  I expected the carp to be spawning but I was hoping I would find a few asexual carp that didn’t care about that thing or a few that were already done.  My main fear was being over run my carp shooters.  There was a big bowfishing tournament going on this weekend and I was hoping none of them would be in my area.  Turns out none of them were in my area.

I got to the parking lot around 7, rigged up my TFO Clouser 5 wt and my Orvis Helios II 7 wt and started the long trek.  Overcast skies and a slight NE breeze made for an enjoyable walk up to my first stop, which wasn’t because of a fish.  It was this girl doing her thing.

I haven’t found a snapping turtle laying eggs since my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary weekend in St. Ignace.  I feel sorry for these little guys though.  They won’t have an easy hike across a beach to water.  She laid her eggs on top of a dirt road that sits on top of a bunch of boulders.  I’ll have to look up the incubation time for snapper eggs and see if I can time when they hatch.  It would be cool to see.

After that I continued my walk until I spotted some carp doing the spawn thing.  They were jumping around and splashing about, having themselves a grand old time.  Along the shoreline I did spot about a 10 pounder cruising along.  He was mouthing some floating reeds as I made my first cast out in front of him.  I let the fly sink as he slowly started to swim my way.  When he was about 3 feet out I slowly began to strip the fly in.  I lost sight of the fly as it dropped between some rocks.  The carp saw it though so I just stopped and let him swim in.  He started to nose down and tail up right over the fly.  I saw his mouth open and it looked like he sucked in the fly.  I raised up to set the hook and missed him completely.  He didn’t stick around to figure out what was going on and I started cursing myself for getting so twitchy.  I know better than that.  Oh well, on to the next one.

The rest of the carp fishing was pretty uneventful.  I saw a fair number of carp but they were all doing the same thing.  Mouthing pulled reeds floating on the surface and not paying much attention to anything else.  The water was very dark so it was hard to see.  Not sure why, it wasn’t dirty, just dark.  I couldn’t even see any gills.  The only one I did catch was by accident while I was casting to a carp.

After a few hours it started to sprinkle some so I headed back to the car.  Along the way I spotted a Bowfin feeding like a carp, head down and tail up.  I flipped my fly out near him and let it sink right down alongside of him.  I saw him react to it and this time I drove the hook home.  I played around with him for about a minute or so and eventually lost him as I was trying to land him.  I wasn’t going to keep him anyways so it was no big deal.  At least I didn’t get completely skunked and I’ll be back many times this summer.

Last item of note was a White Pelican sighting as I was heading back.  It was the first one I had seen in a few years.  There was a bird watcher riding out as I was heading in so I told him about it and where he landed.  Hope he got some decent pictures.  Kind of late in the year for one to be migrating north.  This season has everything screwed up.  We went from winter to summer for a week and then back to Spring.  I’m going steelhead fishing next weekend on the St. Mary’s rapids.  Never expected to be fishing for them in June.  The water coming out of Lake Superior is still in the 40 degree range.  Not that I’m complaining.  I had so many things going on last month I thought I was going to miss my chance.  Hope I get one this time.  This will be my fourth trip up there and all I have caught are Atlantic’s.

Until then.





Lake Huron Flats Smallmouth.

21 05 2018

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, Tomorrow……

That was the song, and the video of Deadpool singing it, stuck in my head all morning long this past Saturday.  I had decided to go up to Port Austin to fish for Pre-Spawn Smallmouth’s on the flats several weeks ago and of course the weather turned to crap.  The rain pretty much covered the whole state so I wasn’t alone.  I made the most of it though.  I had a friend along (Non Fishing Muggle Type) so we stopped at the Farmer’s Market in Port Austin.  Bummed around Caseville a bit and stopped at a local beach near Grindstone City where i skipped stones to help pass the time.

At one point we stopped at a public access area and found about 2 dozen fishermen wading the bay and doing a whole bunch of casting and not a lot of catching.  I was beginning to think that my weekend was going to be a bust but as the day progressed the rain let up and the wind slowly began to lie down.  We went back to the same public access spot in the evening and this time all the fishermen were gone, except for two that looked they were done for the day.  I started to talk to them and they said they were waiting for their friend who was still out there.  Sure enough, about a quarter mile out there was one lone fishermen casting away.  They said he was catching fish and a minute later I saw his net hit the water.  That was all the convincing I needed.  On went the waders,  broke out the Orvis Helios 7wt, tied on a weighted sculpin and started the long trek out.  Eventually I reached the end of my wading depth limits (Damn my “S” gene) and started casting.  It took a few minutes to knock the rust off but eventually I was making a decent enough cast.  I just hoped they were far enough to get to the fish.  A couple of minutes later I got my answer.

After that it was pretty much game on for the next hour.  I was far enough from the other guy to keep from interfering but close enough so we could talk.  We were both catching a lot of fish but the majority were in the 12 inch range.  About 30 minutes later his friends started yelling and he took that as his cue to get going, not that he wanted to but they were his ride.  He wished me good luck and headed back to shore.  After he left fishing slowed up for a bit but not enough to keep me from leaving.  I was hoping for a bigger fish and after about 10 minutes I had one.  He wasn’t going to break any records but he was still one of my bigger Smallmouth on a fly.

After a quick pic I sent him on his way and got back to business.  Every time I caught another bass I would tell myself this would be the last one and I would head in.  After 13 fish I finally did, it helped that I ended it on a good note.

 

All told I ended up catching 13 and losing 2.  Not bad for a little over an hour’s worth of fishing in a place I never had been to before.  Earlier in the day I was sure the whole weekend was going to be a bust but instead it turned out to be one of the more enjoyable times I have had fly fishing.  I’ll definitely be coming back up here again to do this.  Doubt it will be this year but the more I think about it, staying home next year and taking long weekends to local spots is sounding pretty good.  Next time I’ll bring my kayak along.  A group from the Michigan Fly Fishing Club were up for the weekend and most of them were fishing the local rivers to avoid the wind.  I found out later that some of them did pretty good.  As for me my friend and I we went to dinner, sat around the bonfire for a bit and then passed out in my camper.  The next morning the wind had picked up overnight and there were now whitecaps in the area I was fishing 12 hours earlier.  I took that as a sign to just pack up the Mobile Steelhead Command Center and head for home.  Via the long way so I could check all the ports along the Thumb to see if anyone was catching anything.

The Sculpin Pattern that caught them all.

 

 





Mother’s Day Weekend Steel

14 05 2018

This past weekend I headed north to visit my Mom for Mother’s Day, take care of her to-do list and hopefully get a little fishing in.  Fortunately my sister and her husband came up as well and they were able to take care of the indoor items.  That left removing the snow plow from the tractor and putting on the mower deck to me.  This also left me more time to go fishing.  So after sleeping in a bit, Saturday morning, I headed down to the AuSable river.  With the colder than usual Spring we have had there were still a good number of Steelhead in the river.  Problem was the late thaw and melt, along with all the rain, meant the river was high and very clear.  I was just hoping everyone would have stayed home to take care of Mom obligations.  When I first arrived at the  parking area there were no other vehicles.  I had high hopes but once I made it to the area I wanted to fish those hopes were quickly dashed.  There were about 2 dozen other anglers on both sides of the river.  I stood there for a few minutes and watched and came to the determination that I needed to find another place to fish.  I’ll have to find the other parking area these people are all using.

I walked back upstream and made a few stops along the way to cast and practice my spey casting.  Alaska is less than 3 months away and I want to get as much casting in as possible.  I’m getting better and all the motions are starting to become second nature.  I don’t want to spend my week on the Alagnak River trying to figure out what I am doing wrong.  That time is now when there is less at stake.  After a few stops I ventured further upstream to check out new water.  As I was walking along I could see some fish underneath a blow down in about 10 feet of water.  I watched them for awhile as I tried to figure out what they were.  Eventually one moved enough to where I could see the forked tail and I realized they were White Suckers.  Not exactly what I was looking for so I moved on.  At the next blow down I could see more suckers but I also caught the outline of a couple of respectable size Smallmouth Bass.  I made a few casts towards them but they weren’t very eager.  They would follow my fly but never commit.  The water is probably still a little cold for them.  I’ll be back Memorial Day weekend with my 7wt and Streamer Box to try again.

After that I just walked around and checked things out.  Lot’s of wildlife out today enjoying the sun.  Everything from Kingfishers and Eagles to Deer and Beavers.  Around noon I headed back to the car and then to my Mom’s to take care of the tractor.  The next morning it was church, breakfast and then home.  I did make a quick stop at Northwood’s in Pinconning.  They had Original Floating Rapalas for sale at 4.99 each, which is about half the regular price.  The limit was 12 so I bought 12 in size #9.  If the sale is still going on Memorial Day I’ll buy more, On my way up and down.

P.S.  There are still an insane amount of walleye in the Detroit River.

 





Easter Weekend Steel

2 04 2018

You really have to appreciate it when the VP of the company I work for tells you they are closing the office at noon on Good Friday.  Especially when your car is packed and ready to  head north.  I didn’t have to be told twice and a few minutes later I was on the highway and headed to my Mom’s place in Oscoda.  Since I was arriving so early I was hoping to get her to-do list done toady and go steelhead fishing the next morning.  For once everything worked out like I wanted and I was all clear to fish the following day.

I awoke the next morning bright and early, around 8:30 am.  I got all my gear together and made the short drive over to the AuSable river.  Along the way I spotted a female woodcock doing the “timberdoodle two-step” across King’s Corner road so I stopped to watch her for a bit.  Turns out a lot of critters were out and about this morning.  I saw plenty of deer and sandhill cranes in the fields getting a late morning meal, And one turkey that had something else on his mind.

I arrived at the parking lot around 9:00 am and got set up.  I was expecting a lot of vehicles with it being the weekend and I was surprised to see only one truck.  I wasn’t going to complain but I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a sign that there weren’t any fish around.  Once I got to the river I spotted the truck owner, a Father and Son spending the morning together.  I talked to the Father for a few minutes, they caught one small steelhead further upstream and a sucker a couple of minutes ago.  I asked which way they were headed and then I went in the opposite direction.  Once I got about 100 yards away from them I waded in and started swinging a black/purple Senyo A.I.  I was also using my Sage “Pulse” 8wt rod today.  I have a feeling this is going to be the rod I use the most in Alaska so I wanted to spend as much casting time with it that I can.  I started going through my usual routine.  Cast, mend, take two steps downstream.  I kept trying to land the fly at an angle along the seam on the opposite side of the river.  I was standing in an area where the current shifts from the north side to the south.  I was hoping a fish would be lying on the opposite side and be pissed off enough that he would crush my fly.  No such luck.  Eventually the two fishermen I saw earlier had left so I continued to work my way downstream.

A River all to myself.

After about an hour I waded out and decided to switch flies (Pink Predator Scandi) and put on a heavier MOW tip.  I was running a T-11 2.5 float/7.5 sink and I changed over to a T-14.  I really have no idea how deep the water is on the other side but since I wasn’t hitting bottom I knew I wasn’t getting deep enough.  Even though the water is very clear I don’t expect the fish to chase a fly to much in this cold water.  I gave that set up a swing for about half an hour to no avail as well.  I had some more time before the wind advisory was supposed to go into affect (possible 45 mph winds) so I decide to go on a walk-a-bout and see what I could find downstream.  There is plenty of fishable water, it’s just a matter of getting to it and no one else being there.  Eventually I ended up at a spot called “Joe’s Point”.

It is across the river from a very popular area and once again no one was around.  I went back to casting but once again I didn’t have any luck.  I didn’t see any fish on the gravel either.  Still, it was a near perfect day.  Overcast skies, no wind (yet) and nature was definitely active.  Mallards and Woodducks were making all kinds of noise along with the occasional Kingfisher.  As I was walking out I bumped another Woodcock.  He’s probably thinking he should have stayed south a little bit longer this year.  I was thinking I should have stayed in bed longer as well.  Oh well, there will be another time.  Don’t know if I will be able to get back up here again though.  I may have time for a trip to the Alley for a day but I don’t know about a run north.  Guess it depends how ambitious I get.  On my way home Sunday I did stop at Omer to see how the sucker run was going.  I had stopped on the way up and their were a few fishermen catching suckers.  The trip home was a different story.  The cold front was keeping people indoors and I wasn’t seeing any fish being caught.  I’m sure Monday will be a different story, no wind and warmer temps.  Until the next front comes through.

 

 





Tying Bender

25 03 2018

Finally, a weekend all to  myself.  Since I lead such an exciting life I pretty much stayed in all weekend and tied flies.  Alaska is only 4 months away so I need to get cracking.  It may seem like that is a lot of time but warmer weather is right around the corner and soon I will be chasing walleye after work and everything else on weekends.

Before I got started I made up quick trip to Schultz’s Outfitters to pick up some more pink.  They also got some of the new waterproof Plan D articulated fly boxes so of course I had to buy one and fill it.  I really like these boxes.

Once that was full it was on to filling a regular old Plano box.  Not as fancy but it serves its purpose.

Here are a few close ups of some of the flies.

More to come.  Still need to tie up the top water stuff for the Rainbows, Grayling and Coho’s.